‘The Walking Dead’ ends with the promise of more life
This article contains spoilers for the series finale of “The Walking Dead.”
“The Walking Dead” is ending for a long time.
When it debuted on AMC in the fall of 2010, “The Walking Dead” was a blip on the prestige TV landscape — a gory, effects-heavy horror-drama for adults that combined graphic, Grand Guignol violence with a strong moral center in “The of shows like The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad”. It soon emerged as an unlikely hit: at the height of its popularity, around 2013–16, it became Most watched cable TV series in historyWith about 21 million people Season 7 premiere To find out who killed Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the much talked about (and highly controversial) new villain from the previous season. The cliffhanger ending.
Since we’ve learned the answer to that question — it was a double whammy, with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) taking a baseball bat to the head — the show’s prominence has steadily declined. Ratings have plummeted, hovering between one and two million viewers per episode these days, while central cast members have either fled to the spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” or been written out entirely.
including stars Andrew Lincolnwho played the series’ main character, Rick Grimes, before leaving midway through season 9. Of the original group of survivors, only fan-favorites Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) remain, along with a handful of multiseason stalwarts. Such as Negan, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt).
The 11th and final season of the postapocalyptic zombie drama is split into three batches of eight-hour episodes, with the first part premiering in August 2021. By that time, our remaining heroes had abandoned their home of Alexandria the previous six seasons; Unwittingly inducted into the Commonwealth, a large, prosperous community led by the outwardly benevolent Governor Pamela Milton (Lyla Robbins); battle and defeat the nefarious Reapers, led by the mustachioed tyrant Pope (Richie Coster); And elaborately feuded with the Commonwealth’s manipulative Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton), who caused all kinds of trouble before finally being killed a few weeks ago.
That was a lot of ground to cover in one season. Much of it is based on material described in Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic books – specifically the arrival of our main heroes in the Commonwealth, where the comics ended in 2019, and the subsequent power struggle between the Commonwealth’s corrupt leaders. And our (most) noble heroes. But the series has often diverged from the source material over the years, cavalierly killing off original comic-book characters or pursuing new threads of its own invention. There were a lot of questions about how the show would end.
The penultimate episode, last week, left us with a vintage “Walking Dead” cliffhanger: During a tense standoff between the core group and the Commonwealth’s now fully villainous powers, the pugnacious Judith Grimes (Kaylee Fleming) is shot, and she’s shot before she can bleed out while trying. Bachao, Daryl, Carol and the others are surrounded by flesh-eating walkers. The finale picks up where we left off, with a mad dash to escape hordes of walkers and save Judith’s life.
Whether you want to relive the magic one last time or close the book on a show you stopped watching years ago, we’ve got you covered. Here are five takeaways from the long-awaited finale of “The Walking Dead.”
A last call
The previous episode’s cliffhanger was short-lived. When Daryl takes a sick Judith to an abandoned Commonwealth hospital and out of harm’s way, he is knocked unconscious by a city soldier, allowing Judith to stop a possessed walker and make sure they are out of harm’s way. Carol and the others soon join them inside, but when Judith’s condition begins to stabilize — thanks to a generous (and very convenient) blood transfusion from Daryl, whose blood type, she reveals, “goes with anybody” — Luke (Dan Fogler) and his girlfriend, Jules (Alex Sagambati), aren’t so lucky, succumbing to their zombie wounds.
Across town, Rosita (Christian Serratos), Eugene and Father Gabriel arrive at the local daycare center, which, in one of the show’s darkest twists, is almost completely overrun by walkers — Rosita’s infant daughter, Coco, appears the only survivor. Baby in tow, the three reunite with Daryl, Carol and the others, now joined by Maggie, Negan, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy). They even manage to rescue Mercer (Michael James Shaw) from Commonwealth Prison.
The reunited crew commandeers an army truck and drive to a nearby safe house they’ve apparently prepared, where surgeon Tommy (Ian Anthony Dale) is on hand to nurse Judith back to full health.
Cult of personality
All are back together. Judith is safe. Next on the agenda? Taking care of the governor-turned-tyrannical Pamela, who has assembled the Commonwealth’s wealthiest men and retreated to the city’s gated inner sanctum, leaving the proletariat to fend for themselves against violent hordes of pedestrians. Mercer doesn’t like this and tells the group that he wants to save the people and bring him down — by himself if necessary. But this is not a group that will take the evil dictatorship lightly. They all agree to depose Pamela and free the Commonwealth once and for all.
Thus the showdown. As the town’s underclassmen beg to be admitted to the protected community, the walker horde descends upon them and with only moments to spare, our heroes surround Pamela and her soldiers and demand the gates be opened. Father Gabriel is forced to open the gate, at gunpoint – to proceed with a title drop for the ages on the normally unflappable Daryl.
“We have an enemy,” he declared, urging both sides to unite and unite against the Walkers. “We are not the walking dead.”
It’s a rousing speech to convince Pamela’s last remaining allies to abandon her and join the good cause. He is summarily arrested (“for high crimes against the people of the Commonwealth”), the gates are opened and the zombies are held at bay. Judith even has some words of encouragement for Pamela, hoping to inspire a change of heart. “It’s never too late,” she urges.
Like Negan before her, Pamela is deposed and sent to prison, left to contemplate her crimes. The Walker Horde is rigged to use a bunch of oil drums, a turntable, and an old Living Color LP to set off a massive explosion, which destroys the gated community and the mansion Pamela lives in — a nifty trick that doubles as a symbolic gesture. Carroll, taking office as governor, plans to dismantle the caste system that made the Commonwealth so unjust. Why not start by blowing up the prosperous part of town?
Later, the people of the Commonwealth gather to eat and drink to the sound of Fleetwood Mac. To what extent is an extended sensual condemnation, various characters long engaged heart to heart. Negan offers Maggie a lengthy apology for her killing Glenn, which she doesn’t exactly accept, but appreciates nonetheless. (“I don’t want to hate you anymore,” she tells him. Expect continued healing in the future The Maggie-Negan spinoff, “Dead City,” Next year.) Negan even gets a small, respectful nod from Daryl, which is perhaps the biggest sign yet that people are finally ready to accept his redemption.
after a year
Fade Out and Flash Forward: It’s been a year since Pamela was ousted, and we get a cursory look at what the people of the Commonwealth have been up to in the interim.
Connie (Lauren Ridolf) is still working as a reporter “keeping the administration honest” and happier than ever. Judith receives a letter and farewell package from none other than Negan, wishing her well as she prepares for her new series. Overall the city seems to be thriving, and is no longer under immediate threat of siege or walker attack. This is about as close as the show has come to demonstrating a capacity for optimism. A happy ending? It’s hilarious in the context of “The Walking Dead.”
But there is one man who cannot enjoy peace and quiet. Daryl Dixon, the nomad, leaves the Commonwealth behind and prepares to hit the open road on his motorbike… Well, it’s hard to say. But according to reports, it could be Take him to France In another “Walking Dead” spinoff.
Daryl’s need to keep the story moving as everything else neatly wraps up creates a somewhat disjointed effect, but at least we get a great final scene between Daryl and Carol, who have been inseparable since bonding in the show’s second season. “It’s not like we’ll never see each other again,” he assures her before walking away, perhaps teasing a future onscreen reunion. More moving was her tearful reply.
“I’m allowed to be sad,” she says, fighting back tears. “You’re my best friend.”
Rick and business
Of course, one of the biggest differences between “The Walking Dead” and its source material is that the story’s main protagonist, Rick Grimes, exited the show four years ago, where he’s been a major comic book character throughout its run. The comic ends with Rick’s death — murdered in cold blood by Pamela’s evil, sociopathic son, a crime that causes massive social change and upheaval throughout the Commonwealth community. Since this may not be the end, one of the biggest unknowns heading into this finale is what will happen instead.
As it turns out, the show ends with Rick’s (and Lincoln’s) return. The final moments of “The Walking Dead” show us Rick wandering a corpse-strewn beach, writing a letter to his family and stuffing it into a bottle.
A Lincoln-led mini-series about Rick’s continuing adventures is in the works, and here we get a few tantalizing glimpses of what it might look like: Rick is on the run by himself and after throwing his message in a bottle into the ocean, he’s picked up by something in a helicopter. Tracks people who warn him through megaphones that he has no choice but to surrender. It’s clear in the conversation that they’ve been through this before. It’s also clear that Rick hasn’t given up hope of one day reuniting with his family, at least seven years after he left the original story (in the story’s timeline).
Rick’s brief appearance has the wistful tone of reminiscence. His beach stroll is intercut with a montage of departing cast members from past seasons, and we get some voice-over narration from Lincoln that evokes an earlier conversation between Rick and his longtime partner Michonne (Danai Gurira). “I think about the dead all the time,” says Rick, as the faces of those who didn’t make it, beloved characters (Chandler Riggs’ Carl, Jon Bernthal’s Shane) as well as some forgotten ones (Jeffrey DeMun’s Dale, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.’s Bob), screen. cross over Naturally, he ends with a line that has become a mantra for the series: “We who survive.”
It’s a fitting line to end on, capturing the tenacious resilience of the human spirit that has arguably been the show’s overarching theme.
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